NBC Sports Network analyst Ross Tucker talks about the contract negotiations with Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo and Victor Cruz. Tucker also talks about the Browns and suggests a different tone would be felt in Cleveland regarding owner Jimmy Haslam if they have a winning season.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Should Cowboys extend Romo’s contract?
Enough time has passed that Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o is no longer necessarily a punch line.
He’s also turned enough pages on the calendar that he doesn’t always look like a rookie.
The second-rounder from Notre Dame is beginning to show signs that he’s developing into an NFL linebacker, after a slow start to his career.
“I’ve made that big jump,” Te’o said, via Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego. “I still have to think about what I have to do; I still have to think a little bit. But I’m not thinking half as much as I was. There’s where it becomes fun, and that’s where you’re able to make plays. A lot of guys, it takes a while. It takes a while as a rookie. . . .
“Now, it’s about refining things and remembering the small details. As far as the big picture, I think I have the understanding of what it looks like now. That’s kind of why I’ve been able to have a little more success now on the field, just that comfort level and trust in my teammates that they have for me and the trust that my coaches have for me.”
The biggest obstacle he had to overcome was the first one, a foot injury nine snaps into his first preseason game. That cost him the next six weeks of practice, and set him behind.
“He missed so much time in training camp — he missed all those reps; he didn’t have that,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. “So when he first got back, playing at the early part of the season, that was his training camp. He’s made some mistakes, and he’ll tell you that. It’s that learning curve. With young players, there’s a lot to learn. He’s done a nice job. He’s getting better every week, and that’s the key.”
Te’o has shown that he’s willing to work through specific problems, and has become a solid player for the Chargers.
As he grows into his role, they hope he becomes more than that.
Every pass-rusher who stars in the CFL doesn’t turn into Cameron Wake.
But it doesn’t hurt to look, just in case.
According to Tom Curran of CSNNE.com, the Patriots worked out defensive end/outside linebacker Cordarro Law.
Law had 14.0 sacks for the Calgary Stampeders this season, third-most in the league. Originally an undrafted rookie from Southern Mississippi, he was in camp with the Seahawks in 2012.
The Patriots have been willing to look to the CFL for help before. They signed defensive tackle Armond Armstead this offseason, but he’s still on the non-football injury list after a surgery to remove an infection.
Earlier this week, Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson met a homeless man who told him that the Lions were a “sorry” team.
Burleson said he understood where the man was coming from and seemed to channel those feelings when he was asked about the Lions’ chances of making the playoffs on Wednesday. Burleson didn’t go full Mora in his response to the question, but made it clear that the Lions can’t be thinking about the postseason right now.
What should they be thinking about? Burleson took a page from Allen Iverson’s book on that one.
“We’re not even thinking about the postseason,” Burleson said, via MLive.com. “With coming off a loss, making the mistakes we just talked about, we shouldn’t even be thinking about the playoffs. We should be thinking about practice.”
The Lions should be able to pinpoint the biggest reason for losing three of their last four games fairly easily. They’ve turned the ball over 16 times in those games, handing opponents chance after chance to put points on the board. Whatever else they practice, holding onto the ball should be priority one on Monday night against the Ravens.
But Richardson now believes that he’s done enough through 14 weeks to justify being the first guy taken in a hypothetical do-over draft.
“Probably No. 1, most likely,” Richardson said of his prospects, via Matt Ehalt of ESPN.com. “Kansas City? Yeah. I went into the draft thinking I’d be the No. 1 pick. I had a shot.”
Another candidate for the top pick in a Mulligan draft would be Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, who went one spot after Richardson. Coincidentally, their teams square off this weekend.
“Thirteen, 14 and now we’re both going for defensive rookies of the year,” Richardson said. “Can’t ask for much better than that.”
While it’s too early to label the underachieving top-10 picks as bust, Richardson and Lotulelei likely would both go higher if the teams knew then what they know now.
The twelve taken before Richardson and Lotulelei were: (1) Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher; (2) Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel; (3) Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan; (4) Eagles tackle Lane Johnson; (5) Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah; (6) Browns linebacker Barkevious Mingo; (7) Cardinals guard Jonathan Cooper; (8) Rams receiver Tavon Austin; (9) Milliner; (10) Titans guard Chance Warmack; (11) Chargers tackle D.J. Fluker; and (12) Raiders cornerback D.J. Hayden.
More than three months ago, the NFL struck a comprehensive settlement with the thousands of former players who had sued the league for concealing the effects of head injuries. The settlement, if approved, will apply to all retired players.
But every retired player has the right to opt out of the settlement. Former Cowboys, Giants, and Broncos quarterback Craig Morton apparently will.
On Tuesday, Morton sued the NFL and NFL Properties in California federal court. The 11-count, 373-paragraph complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained, alleges that the NFL knew or should have known the risks of repeated blows to the head. The complaint specifically alleges that quarterbacks like Morton historically have been more exposed to head injuries, given that defensive players try to “sack” them.
At paragraph six, the complaint mentions that the term “sack” possibly traces to Morton himself, citing our article from June 2013 in which Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy explained that the late George Allen told his Redskins players, “[W]e’re going to take that Morton salt and pour him into a sack.’”
Some will say that Morton is now looking for a sack of money. Others will say he’s pursuing justice. Regardless, the proposed concussion settlement gives all former players the ability to pursue their own legal actions.
If enough of them opt out of the settlement and press forward against the league, someone eventually could force the NFL to do that which it surely hopes to avoid ever doing — disclosing what it knew and when it knew it about head injuries.
Jets quarterback Geno Smith turned in his best performance since October in last Sunday’s 37-27 victory over the Raiders and he’s crediting it to acting more like a human being.
During the week leading up to the game against the Raiders, a game that came a week after Smith was benched against the Dolphins, Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg made loosening up a priority for the rookie quarterback. Mornhinweg felt Smith had become too focused on doing everything fundamentally correct and thinking too much instead of letting his instincts come through on the field. Smith agreed with that assessment.
“I was playing like a robot. Everything is not ideal on the field. Sometimes you’ve got to improvise,” Smith said, via the New York Times. “I think I kind of got into this zone where I just tried to be way too perfect. And that’s almost impossible to do at any level, especially as a rookie. There were times where I was so caught up in running the play and executing it to perfection that I didn’t allow my natural ability to take over.”
There was more improvisation from Smith against the Raiders as he ran five times for 50 yards and a touchdown, but the proof of a real change will come over the final three weeks because we’ve seen flashes of good from Smith followed by flashes of bad more than once this season. Playing the Panthers on the road this week will give us a better idea about the permanence of the non-robotic Smith.
Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb is eligible to be activated from injured reserve for this week’s game against the Cowboys, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.
Cobb hasn’t practiced and hasn’t been cleared to play in a game, so Week 15 is probably going to be too fast for him to get back on the field. He has taken a step toward getting back before the year is over, however.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com reports that Cobb said he’s been cleared by doctors to start running after spending the last two months rehabbing his fractured right tibia. Cobb expressed some frustration last week that he had not been given the green light to start running, but he obviously made some progress in the last few days for doctors to sign off on an increased workload.
The Patriots are still scrambling to piece together a defense.
The Bengals are steaming about a rash of missed tackles.
Texans interim coach Wade Phillips brought in a crew of Big 12 refs for practice to try to cut down on the penalties in games.
It’s Week 15, and the Colts may have finally found their complementary receiver(s).
Titans coach Mike Munchak wants more time to make more changes.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is concerned by the number of hamstring injuries.
After time ran out on their playoff hopes, the Giants finally took down their Super Bowl countdown clock.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier is getting credit for “holding things together.”
The Saints were missing five players in practice Wednesday.
The Seahawks had a longer list of injuries after last week’s loss to the 49ers.
With Redskins coach Mike Shanahan telling quarterback Robert Griffin III to take a seat for the rest of the season, a pair of former Shanahan quarterbacks have stood up and called out their one-time boss.
“It’s not a fun situation and I feel for RG3 — a great kid, a really, really great football player – he’ll bounce back, get healthy and persevere through this,” Jake Plummer told Jim Corbett of USA Today. “I see great things in his future. But I think it’s going to be with a new coach. . . .
“I don’t think there will be a Shanahan future there. I think there will be a different head coach for this franchise quarterback who had a great year last year, and the knee injury played into this because I have not seen another quarterback this exciting, maybe other than Randall Cunningham.”
Plummer acknowledges he didn’t have that same talent level, and he apparently believes that guys who can’t play at the level Shanahan demands are destined for trouble.
“I just know from my experience sometimes Shanahan would ask too much of me,” Plummer said. “I was pretty good. But I was no Peyton Manning. I had to fight every day.
“A similar situation happened with me, and it happened with Donovan McNabb because we had our own styles, and it didn’t mesh with what Mike wanted. What I see happening there isn’t the same, but it is similar.”
Speaking of McNabb, he did some more speaking on the Shanahan situation, too. McNabb thinks Shanahan simply wants Cousins over Griffin at this point.
“This is about Mike Shanahan,” McNabb said on his NBC Sports Radio show, via the Washington Post. “Mike and Kyle Shanahan trying to show why they feel like Kirk Cousins gives them the best chance of winning. So many things have leaked out, and I’ve always kept my ear on things that are happening with the Washington Redskins, teams that I’ve played with. And when you hear reporters that I know are linked to Mike Shanahan talk about [RGIII’s] preparation, you talk about he’s missing some reads, you know, he’s not reading some things. And I knew that he was big on having Kirk Cousins to get out there and run the offense.”
McNabb can relate, because he ended up being treated the same way in his only season as the team’s starter.
“I’m used to this whole deal because, listen, I was benched for Rex Grossman,” McNabb said. “And [Shanahan] came out and said [Grossman] gave the team the best chance of winning. Well, Rex Grossman finished the season 1-2 or 1-3. I mean, that didn’t help nothing. And so, the whole thing about it is, sometimes you have to look in the mirror and look at yourself. Stop looking at everybody else. I don’t think that he and Kyle Shanahan can do that.”
If McNabb is right, it means that Shanahan hopes to stay, with Cousins possibly playing his way into the starting job for 2014.
As ridiculous as that sounds given the current atmosphere in D.C., stranger things have happened. This week.
The Patriots are headed to Miami for a date with the Dolphins this weekend, but one member of the Dolphins reportedly spent Wednesday in Boston instead of preparing for the game.
Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports that center Mike Pouncey was in Boston yesterday, presumably for matters related to the subpoena he received to offer testimony to a grand jury investigating weapons charges against former Patriots tight end (and Pouncey’s University of Florida teammate) Aaron Hernandez.
The team would not offer any details about Pouncey’s whereabouts, listing him as a non-participant in Wednesday’s practice for non-football reasons. The Dolphins do not practice Thursday and Friday will be their final day of on-field preparation for the game against the Patriots.
Per Beasley, Pouncey is expected to play in that game despite the missed practice time on Wednesday.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said that he’s happy that the schedule is sending the Seahawks to MetLife Stadium this week because he’s never played there before and he thinks it will be good to get the lay of the land in the event the Seahawks are playing there again in early February.
As the quarterback of the team with the best record in the NFC, Wilson’s got every reason to think that a Super Bowl trip could be in his future. Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said that he couldn’t blame Wilson for feeling that way, although he doesn’t plan to be a welcoming host just because the Giants will have been on vacation for a month by the time the Super Bowl rolls around.
Tuck wants to put up a good fight against the Seahawks so that the Giants can avoid being the sixth team to lose to the Seahawks by at least 20 points this season.
“The last thing you want to be is embarrassed,” Tuck said, via the New York Daily News. “This is a team if you’re not ready to play, they will embarrass you — and laugh about it. That’s point blank. I ain’t in the business of being embarrassed. I’m in the business of going out there and putting on a great show for our fans and helping us win football games.”
The Giants are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Chargers last week in a game that saw them show very little spark while getting run off the field. Tuck will need to hope that protecting their home field sparks a bit more pride from his mates because a repeat of the same effort this time around would leave the Seahawks in stitches as they make their way back across the country.
Rodgers isn’t the only injured starter on offense, however. Running back Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle when the Packers chose to run the ball instead of taking a knee on the final play of the first half last weekend and wasn’t able to practice on Wednesday despite being able to finish the game against the Falcons.
Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Lacy would try to practice on Friday and Dunne deemed McCarthy “cautiously optimistic” that Lacy will be able to play against the Cowboys this weekend.
Lacy has been a workhorse for the Packers as a rookie, carrying the ball 20 or more times in eight of the last 10 games, so his absence would force them to improvise even more on offense than they’ve been doing since Rodgers got hurt. James Starks, Kahlil Bell and John Kuhn are the other backs available for the Packers.
At a time when New England needs a pass-catcher or two (or more) to step up in the absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is out for the year with a knee injury, a former #Tommy favorite has surfaced with one of the Patriots’ former arch rivals.
Deion Branch had a Tryout Tuesday tire-kicking in Indianapolis, per a league source with knowledge of the league’s official transaction report.
Branch played for New England as recently as 2012, catching 16 passes for 145 yards in 10 regular-season games. He also played in both postseason games last year.
In September, quarterback Tom Brady denied a report that he had been texting Branch and receiver Brandon Lloyd regarding their availability. At the time, Brady seemed to be frustrated with young wideouts who were doing more dropping than catching.
The Colts’ interest in Branch, who has not been signed, possibly arises from the leadership vacuum created by the season-ending knee injury suffered by Reggie Wayne in the team’s signature win over the Broncos. Since then, Indy’s wins have come only against teams that currently play or used to play in Houston.
The Colts also worked out receiver Ty West and running back Shaun Draughn. The Patriots have reported no tryouts or visits since Gronkowski was lost for the balance of the season.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin has taken a lot of heat for the way the Dallas defense is playing, but Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones says the people who should be taking heat are the players.
Jones, the son of owner and General Manager Jerry Jones, told ESPN.com that the players need to be held accountable.
“You turn on the tape and guys we count on week in and week out didn’t show up,” Jones said. “I don’t know what it was, but we didn’t get it done and I’ve got to believe we can do better than that.”
Jones called out several defensive players by name.
“They’ve all got to be better,” Jones said. “Sean Lee has got to be better. Brandon Carr has got to be better. Bruce Carter has got to be better. Jason Hatcher has got to be better. We’ve all got to be better. We’ve got to do a better job when we do have injuries of having better players to get up and be there. It’s an organizational thing. You just have to do better on the defensive side of the ball. If we want to get to where we want to get to we can’t play that type of defense.”
The Cowboys are giving up 426.8 yards a game, worst in the league and on pace to allow the second-most yards in a season in NFL history. Jones wasn’t expecting that.
“Obviously you expect better,” Jones said. “We have to be better. You can’t play defense like that and be last in the league and expect to ultimately get to where we want to get to. Ultimately it’s got to improve. We know there’s circumstances with injuries — no excuses — our defensive line is kind of where it starts. We’ve been beaten up there but that’s part of it and we’ll have to keep churning there. But I fully expect us to play better these last three games on the defensive side of the ball.”
If the Cowboys don’t play better, they’re going to be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew once stayed away from an entire offseason when he was unhappy with his contract.
And now, though his role is changing, he wants to sign another one.
The veteran running back said he wants to hang around for the Jaguars sudden turnaround, and sign a new deal there.
“I want to be here,” Jones-Drew said, via Mark Long of the Associated Press. “It’s a fun environment. It’s different than I’ve ever been a part of. It works. It takes time to build anything. It’s starting to turn around for us, and we’re starting to play well. That’s exciting.”
After losing their first eight games, the Jaguars have come out of the bye as one of the league’s hottest teams, winning three straight and four of their last five.
That has him willing to forgive and forget the fact he never got the new contract the previous administration promised him, while adapting to a new role that involves sharing the ball more. The Jaguars have indicated they’d like to have him back at the right price.
“I just want to be a leader,” he said. “Back when I was young and doing some wild stuff, we had older guys that would be like, ‘All right, calm down.’ Well, now I look around here and I’m like, ‘All right, where are these older guys at?’ Oh, I’m one of them. So you’ve kind of got to change some things, especially with what we’ve been going through.”
That kind of change underscores the progress coach Gus Bradley and General Manager Dave Caldwell have made in a short time, one which gives the Jaguars hope for the future.